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Sexual preferences and the body are the new types of discrimination

05 July 2013 / 14:07:10  GRReporter
3988 reads

Simona Peneva

    Greece is, more or less, a racist country inherently but because of the crisis and the fact that the extreme nationalist Golden Dawn party has entered parliament, violence and racism are increasing, as stated by Zacharias Kostopoulous, vice president of the association of gays and lesbians in Greece. He says that in Patras, where there is a branch of the association, members of the organization have filmed a documentary about their own life and decided to stick up posters near the office of Golden Dawn. The extreme nationalists saw the posters and started chasing the filmmakers, and, when they caught up with them, assumed the role of policemen and collected their identity cards.
    In Greece, Golden Dawn is prejudiced against same-sex relationships but the police in Thessaloniki are not well disposed to them either. A young girl living in the town had found out that she was attracted to girls and decided to leave school, as she was afraid. A little later, she realized that she should not give up studying for this reason and enrolled in evening classes. When her friends found out why she had left school, they decided to follow her one evening and to set fire to her; so they followed her by car but the girl noticed their presence and was able to escape.
    These and many other examples of discrimination were given during the forum on "Racism, xenophobia and crisis." "We are here. We are not afraid! We are not hiding," said Zacharias Kostopoulous who encouraged everyone not to worry about their sexual preferences and to turn to the association ( if they need help. Zeta Douka, president of "ANASA" organization which was established in 2008 and its vice president Eva Salaminiou spoke about body discrimination. This is a non-governmental institution and its services are free. Anyone who has a problem and feels uncomfortable in his or her body can attend a seminar or therapy session. The first campaign of the organization, called "Open Dialogue", was able to gather more than 1,000 people who had problems with their body. Zeta Douka explains that each body problem such as bulimia and anorexia, for example, is actually a mental health problem and its treatment requires the involvement of nutritionists and psychologists.

    It is namely body discrimination that causes these mental disorders which, in turn, are the causes of those terrible diseases. This type of discrimination is expressed in the mere fact that people have a certain idea and vision of a perfect body which is accepted by all. In the majority of cases, when we see a rather stout person we define him or her as “fat” or as thin as a rake if he or she is thinner than we are. Thus, each person does not accept his or her body as it is and constantly strives to do something to lose or gain weight, and to attain this sacred idea of ​​the perfect body. In 2008, the number of participants in the programmes of "ANASA" reached 7,000 and it is continuing to increase. The number of cases of bulimia and anorexia in men has also increased as well as has the development of such diseases in children at an earlier age. The organization offers its members 120 treatments per year and a total of 700 seminars.
    Eva Salaminiou believes that the idea of ​​the perfect body hampers the therapy and that it is an obstacle for those who are undergoing  treatment. Many people often pay attention to what others are eating or not eating and to their appearance, but they never think why those who have a "perfect body" are doing this and how they are feeling. Moreover, the compliments we pay people with perfect bodies sometimes play a bad joke on them by forcing them to continue to harass themselves and to try not to lose their good shape, and they also confuse many children and their parents who are happy when their children are losing weight.
    The problem occurs most often in children of puberty age, between 12 and 16 years in particular, but it is not an exception even in younger ones which requires the family and professionals to intervene. According to Eva Salaminiou, a large number of the patients are ashamed to admit to their colleagues and friends that they are attending these seminars or that they are undergoing treatment. Salaminou concluded by stating that the term "You have lost weight" has become synonymous with "You have become more beautiful".

Tags: RacismSexual preferencesAnorexiaBulimiaHomosexualityGolden Dawn
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